An impromptu trip to visit a friend, left a lasting happiness that will be remembered for a lifetime.

If you’re thinking of coming to Phuket during the coming months I highly recommend taking some time to visit the surrounding islands. Phuket is perfectly located in the Andaman sea and has lots of neighbouring islands and hidden areas to explore. For example: Koh Maprao, Koh Racha, Koh Yao Yai and Koh Lanta. All of these amazing places are within a 3-hour ferry ride or if you prefer life in the fast lane take one of the many speed boats available for a slightly higher price. One of the most famous islands nearby is Koh Phi Phi located approx. 60 KM south east of Phuket. 

Koh Phi Phi was made famous by the movie “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio in 2000. Since then it has seen millions of tourists pass through to experience it’s stunning beauty and lively nightlife. 

However, I want to share my incredible experience of Koh Yao Noi. A 30-minute speed boat ride from Bang Rong Pier. Located only 40 minutes from Patong on the north east side of Phuket. 

A one-way ticket costs only 300 THB and the staff at the pier are friendly and efficient. There are speed boats coming and going all day starting from around 7:30am to 4:30pm. There’s also a small indoor parking area where you can park your motorbike for 20 THB per day, if you decide to make your own way to the pier. 

I was feeling a little hungry when I arrived at the pier so decided a snack was in order before boarding the speedboat, also I had 40 minutes to kill before departure so if like me you feel the need to grab a snack before you catch your ride there are some small places to buy food/snacks/drinks. It’s super convenient!

Once on the boat there’s a beautiful view of the Andaman but the journeys so quick you arrive before you know it. Once at Manow Pier there are helpful shuttle drivers waiting to take you to your hotel, resort or guest-house. 

However, I went to stay with a friend. She came to meet me at the pier with her boyfriend and recommended that I get a set of wheels to travel to her home. So, I took advantage of renting a motorbike from the pier for only 250 THB per day and made my way across the island. This was a great way to get around as everything is really spread out and the opposite to somewhere like Koh Phi Phi where you can walk everywhere. On Koh Yao Noi you definitely need some kind of transportation if you want to explore freely. I’d recommend renting a motorbike or bicycle (depending on how fit you are) from one of the local rental shops.

Immediately after leaving the pier I could see the change of pace compared to Phuket. The island reminded me of my time in Isaan – the north east of Thailand. Simply because there was very little traffic, few tourists and not a lot of buildings. The island still has its raw natural beauty and for me it’s still “the real Thailand”. 

Koh Yao Noi is a predominantly Muslim island and it’s noticeable in a few minor ways for example; there aren’t many bars or places advertising alcohol and no nightclubs. So, if you really want to experience the slow life this is the place to do it. There are nice hotels, resorts and guest-houses scattered across the island with a few restaurants thrown in-between. There is a daily market and only one 7-Eleven located in the “central” area of the island. The market area is well sign posted and since there’s only one main road that goes in a circle around the core area of the island it’s really easy to navigate without the use of GPS.

The beaches there are nice but the sand is a little coarse, the swimming’s good but this island is more for exploration than lazy beach days in my opinion. There are lots of farm areas with buffalo and chickens running wild as well as lots of heavily forested areas. If you’re scared of snakes and spiders maybe this isn’t the place for you! There’s a great view point that you can hike up to, to get a beautiful view of the Phang Nga islands so make sure you pack some comfortable shoes, flip-flops aren’t recommended.

The people on the island are super friendly and happy to see the few tourists that go everyday however their English is limited; so be patient, speak slowly and be willing to use a translator at times when things get tricky.

I loved my weekend trip to the island, I was lucky enough to stay with my friend but I managed to do some exploring on my own and see some of the wonderful sights. I saw a beautiful sunrise and a stunning view from the view point and honestly… 

I can’t wait to go back again.

If you have time in your itinerary, I highly recommend a day trip or a few days there. It’s a great place to unwind and see what Thailand’s really all about.

By teacher Emma.